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Special Forces


Special forces emerged in the early 20th century, with a significant growth in the field during World War II, when "every major army involved in the fighting" created formations devoted to special operations behind enemy lines.[5] Depending on the country, special forces may perform functions including airborne operations, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, covert ops, direct action, hostage rescue, high-value targets/manhunt, intelligence operations, mobility operations, and unconventional warfare.[6]




Special Forces



In Russian-speaking countries, special forces of any country are typically called spetsnaz, an acronym for "special purpose". In the United States, the term special forces often refers specifically to the U.S. Army Special Forces, while the term special operations forces is used more broadly for these types of units.


Special forces have played an important role throughout the history of warfare, whenever the aim was to achieve disruption by "hit and run" and sabotage, rather than more traditional conventional combat. Other significant roles lay in reconnaissance, providing essential intelligence from near or among the enemy and increasingly in combating irregular forces, their infrastructure and activities.


Chinese strategist Jiang Ziya, in his Six Secret Teachings, described recruiting talented and motivated men into specialized elite units with functions such as commanding heights and making rapid long-distance advances.[7] Hamilcar Barca in Sicily (249 BC) had specialized troops trained to launch several offensives per day.[citation needed] In the late Roman or early Byzantine period, Roman fleets used small, fast, camouflaged ships crewed by selected men for scouting and commando missions. In the Middle Ages, special forces trained to conduct special operations were employed in several occasions.[8] An example of this were the special forces of Gerald the Fearless, a Portuguese warrior and folk hero of the Reconquista.[9][10][11][12] Muslim forces also had naval special operations units, including one that used camouflaged ships to gather intelligence and launch raids and another of soldiers who could pass for Crusaders who would use ruses to board enemy ships and then capture and destroy them.[13] In Japan, ninjas were used for reconnaissance, espionage and as assassins, bodyguards or fortress guards, or otherwise fought alongside conventional soldiers.[14] During the Napoleonic wars, rifle and sapper units were formed that held specialised roles in reconnaissance and skirmishing and were not committed to the formal battle lines.


Modern special forces emerged during the Second World War. In 1940, the British Commandos were formed following Winston Churchill's call for "specially trained troops of the hunter class, who can develop a reign of terror down the enemy coast."[20] A staff officer, Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Clarke, had already submitted such a proposal to General Sir John Dill, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff. Dill, aware of Churchill's intentions, approved Clarke's proposal[21] and on 23 June 1940, the first Commando raid took place.[21]


Reaching a wartime strength of over 30 individual units and four assault brigades, the Commandos served in all theatres of war from the Arctic Circle to Europe and from the Mediterranean and Middle East to South-East Asia. Their operations ranged from small groups of men landing from the sea or by parachute to a brigade of assault troops spearheading the Allied invasions of Europe and Asia. The first modern special forces units were established by men who had served with the Commandos, including the Parachute Regiment, Special Air Service, and Special Boat Service. The No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando organised by British of volunteers from occupied Europe led to French Commandos Marine, Dutch Korps Commandotroepen, Belgian Paracommando Brigade. The United States Army Rangers and United States Marine Raiders were all influenced to some degree by the British Commandos.[24][25][26]


The first modern special forces unit was the Special Air Service (SAS), formed in July 1941 from an unorthodox idea and plan by Lieutenant David Stirling.[27] In June 1940 he volunteered for the No. 8 (Guards) Commando (later named "Layforce"). After Layforce was disbanded, Stirling remained convinced that due to the mechanized nature of war a small team of highly trained soldiers with the advantage of surprise could exact greater damage to the enemy's ability to fight than an entire platoon. His idea was for small teams of parachute trained soldiers to operate behind enemy lines to gain intelligence, destroy enemy aircraft, and attack their supply and reinforcement routes. Following a meeting with the C-in-C Middle East, General Claude Auchinleck, his plan was endorsed by the Army High Command.


In the Burma Campaign, the Chindits, whose long-range penetration groups were trained to operate from bases deep behind Japanese lines, contained commandos (King's Regiment (Liverpool), 142 Commando Company) and Gurkhas. Their jungle expertise, which would play an important part in many British special forces operations post-war, was learned at a great cost in lives in the jungles of Burma fighting the Japanese.[citation needed]


The United States formed the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II under the Medal of Honor recipient William J. Donovan. This organization was the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was responsible for both intelligence and special forces missions. The CIA's elite Special Activities Division is the direct descendant of the OSS.[36]


On February 16, 1942, the U.S. Marine Corps activated a battalion of Marines with the specific purpose of securing beach heads, and other special operations. The battalion became the first special operations force of the U.S. The battalion became known as Marine Raiders due to Admiral Chester Nimitz's request for "raiders" in the Pacific front of the war.[citation needed]


The German army's Brandenburger Regiment was founded as a special forces unit used by the Abwehr for infiltration and long distance reconnaissance in Fall Weiss of 1939 and the Fall Gelb and Barbarossa campaigns of 1940 and 1941.[citation needed]


In Italy, the Decima Flottiglia MAS was responsible for the sinking and damage of considerable British tonnage in the Mediterranean. Also there were other Italian special forces like A.D.R.A. (Arditi Distruttori Regia Aeronautica). This regiment was used in raids on Allied airbases and railways in North Africa in 1943. In one mission they destroyed 25 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers.[citation needed]


During World War II, the Finnish Army and Border Guard organized sissi forces into a long-range reconnaissance patrol (kaukopartio) units. These were open only to volunteers and operated far behind enemy lines in small teams. They conducted both intelligence-gathering missions and raids on e.g. enemy supply depots or other strategic targets. They were generally highly effective. For example, during the Battle of Ilomantsi, Soviet supply lines were harassed to the point that the Soviet artillery was unable to exploit its massive numerical advantage over Finnish artillery. Their operations were also classified as secret because of the political sensitivity of such operations. Only authorized military historians could publish on their operations; individual soldiers were required to take the secrets to the grave. A famous LRRP commander was Lauri Törni, who later joined the U.S. Army to train U.S. personnel in special operations.[citation needed]


In June 1971, during the Bangladesh Liberation War, the World Bank sent a mission to observe the situation in East Pakistan. The media cell of Pakistan's government was circulating the news that the situation in East Pakistan was stable and normal. Khaled Mosharraf, a sector commander of Mukti Bahini, planned to deploy a special commando team. The task assigned to the team was to carry out commando operations and to terrorize Dhaka. The major objective of this team was to prove that the situation was not actually normal. Moreover, Pakistan, at that time, was expecting economic aid from World Bank, which was assumed[by whom?] to be spent to buy arms. The plan was to make World Bank Mission understand the true situation of East Pakistan and to stop sanctioning the aid.[37] Khaled, along with A. T. M. Haider, another sector commander, formed the Crack Platoon. Initially, the number of commandos in the platoon was 17, trained in Melaghar Camp.[38] From Melaghar, commandos of Crack Platoon headed for Dhaka on 4 June 1971 and launched a guerrilla operation on 5 June.[37] Later, the number of commandos increased, the platoon split and deployed in different areas surrounding Dhaka city.[39] The basic objectives of the Crack Platoon were to demonstrate the strength of Mukti Bahini, terrorising Pakistan Army and their collaborators. Another major objective was proving to the international community that the situation in East Pakistan was not normal. That commando team also aimed at inspiring the people of Dhaka, who were frequently victims of killing and torture. The Crack Platoon successfully fulfilled these objectives. The World Bank mission, in its report, clearly described the hazardous situation prevailing in East Pakistan and urged ending the military regime in East Pakistan.[40] The Crack Platoon carried out several successful and important operations. The power supply in Dhaka was devastated[41][42] which caused severe problems for the Pakistan Army and the military administration in Dhaka.


Throughout the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st century, special forces have come to higher prominence, as governments have found objectives can sometimes be better achieved by a small team of anonymous specialists than a larger and much more politically controversial conventional deployment. In both Kosovo and Afghanistan, special forces were used to co-ordinate activities between local guerrilla fighters and air power. 041b061a72


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